Sunday, December 30, 2007

Homegrown Pumpkin

Two months after I cut it from the vine, our biggest garden squash is finally ready for eating! Orange all around. When I brought it in, it was all green, but it wasn't ripening outside due to the cold temperatures.

So finally, the fruit of our "labor" is at hand.

Baked, boiled, and fried, it tastes like pumpkin.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Happy New Year!


Happy New Year and a grand Holy Day of Kérasa to you!

All hail the Eldest, She Who Walks upon the Sea, the High Goddess of Water! All hail the greatest god of Them all, the One Who is so great that She begins the year all over again!

Kérasa is so cool. I would never say anything bad about Her. Never.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

New Camera!

From my office window:
Construction Workers
Can you see who's smoking? No? Well, let me crop the photo for you:
Construction Workers Crop

And here's one of our cat:
And a crop of the cat's gray hair:
Cat Crop

Third Night

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
Three French hens
Two turtledoves
And a partridge in a pear tree


Is the third day of Christmas today or tomorrow? The first *night* of Christmas is December 25 and the twelfth *morning* of Christmas is January 6 (while the twelfth *night* is January 5), but what about the time between morning and night? Which way does it go? Since right now is still morning, does that mean that I should be celebrating only the *second* day of Christmas?

Oh, but I'm looking forward to my three chickens this evening, is all. Here comes third night!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

White Christmas!

It snowed on Christmas! Such a rare occurance for the Seattle area. 'Tis!

It even stuck on the ground in north Seattle and points northward. For a while, at least.

But here's the snow at my parents' house, where it didn't really stick, except in slush form:

You see, a photo just wouldn't show the snow...

Huh. YouTube has a real reduction in video quality. For shame.

What I Did Christmas Day

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Christmas Eve!

Are you working today? I am. Well, not right this minute. But I should be. So, bye.

Okay, I'm home now. The task currently before me is to pack the car with all our presents and still leave room for two passengers and our personal effects.

Christmas Eve 2007
(And once again, the tree is too small. Even worse this year, actually!)

It only took an hour and a half to load the car! Yay! . . . And there's still room for Christina in the back seat. I only hope she doesn't want to bring much of anything else. . .

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Singalong Time!

I love you, Chunlin
You are my queen
Do you know what I mean?
I love you, Chunlin

Monday, December 17, 2007

My Favorite Things with a generic European accent

Rrraindrrrops on rrroses ahnd veeskerrrs on keettens
Brrright copperrr kettles ahnd varrrm voolen meettens
Brrrown paperrr packages tied up veet strrreengs
Deez arrre a fieu of my fahvorrreet teengs

Crrream-colorrred ponies ahnd crrreesp ahpple strrrudels
Doorrrbells ahnd sleighbells ahnd schnitzel vit noodles
Vild geese daht fly vith da moon on deirrr veengs
Deez arrre a fieu of my fahvorrreet teengs

Geerrrls een vite drrresses vit bleu sahteen sahshes
Snowflahkes daht stay on my nose ahnd eyelahshes
Seelverrr-vite vinterrr daht melts eento sprrreeng
Deez arrre a fieu of my fahvorrreet teengs

Ven da dog bites
Ven da bee steengs
Ven I'm feeling sahd
I seemply rrrememberrr my fahvorrreet teengs
Ahnd den I don't feel . . . so bahd

The Three Stooges

Incredibly stupid, yet funny.

At the checkout line in Grocery Outlet, they had a rack of $1 dvds. I said, "Ooh, look! Three Stooges!" Chunlin said, "Who are the Three Stooges?" And I replied, "If you don't know about the Three Stooges, now I *really* want to get the dvd." I had to expose her to classic American culture, after all.

So we got it.

Well worth the one buck. Three short films of the Three Stooges doing what Three Stooges do.

One with Moe, Larry, and Curly. Two with Moe, Larry, and Shemp. Did you know that Moe, Curly, and Shemp were brothers?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Tax Foreclosure Auction

I went to the King County tax foreclosure auction today. Bought nothing. I did bid on one property, though, but was outbid past what we had decided was our limit.

Over the last few weeks, my list of potential properties has been whittled down as the owners paid off their back property taxes. It's been like watching a disaster movie. You never know which of these characters will be the next to die!

I had something like twenty properties (out of two hundred listed) that looked worth bidding on. And then Capitol Hill gets wiped out, and then Newcastle dies, and then Park Orchard and Pipe Lake and Des Moines! Oh, the carnage!

At the beginning of the last act of the movie (this morning), we have five characters left. Three quickly get slaughtered by some torrential flood (of last-minute payoffs): Broadview, Phinney Ridge, and Fauntleroy all go quick. And then there were two: Thorndyke and Skyway. And Skyway doesn't look too healthy.

In fact, maybe Skyway isn't good enough to bid on. Nope, too many problems and unanswered questions. So that just leaves Thorndyke, the first property of the auction.

Bidding starts low, at the $11,000 or so that the county is owed, but quickly jumps up to $75,000. In leaps of $5,000, the bidding progresses. At $130,000, it stalls. One of the two bidders has pulled out. I raise my hand and call out "135!" The other man bumps it up to 140, I take 145, he claims $150,000, which was our limit. I shake my head "no."

In the front row, Santa Claus bids $155,000. The man I'd been bidding against goes to $160,000. "Going once, going twice, . . . sold."

I stuck around for another hour or so, still thinking about bidding on the Skyway property. The guy who'd bought the Thorndyke house bid on some other land, too, so who knows how much he'd have been willing to go up on that one.

A couple people bid on anything cheap, even if it was useless. One woman paid $1,173 for a few square yards of beach in Ballard and then $1,202 for a 1,600-square-foot wedge in Lea Hill. There were no other bids on those. One man paid $1,600 for land completely submerged beneath Steel Lake, then $2,000 for a 14' by 2.1' rectangle (yes, I typed that correctly) in the middle of a block in Greenwood, and then $2,200 for another tiny strip of land near Seward Park. He had a wad of cash. He probably bought a few more parcels after I left.

What could these people possibly be thinking?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Yay! More Spokane!

I had another business trip to Spokane today. My tenth this year! What fun, what fun.

Before we left Seattle, we were warned that our plane might have to U-turn back to Sea-Tac because of "freezing fog" at the Spokane airport. Nevertheless, we landed just fine.

As we approached Spokane, the pilot leveled off just above the cloud layer, pulling up fairly hard -- it almost felt like he was trying to land atop the clouds. We then flew just above the cloudtops for several miles before he finally nosed the plane down and we descended through the thick mess.

At ground level, there was quarter-mile visibility and slushy ice on the runway.

Spokane had a high temperature below freezing today. I'm glad I didn't have to spend much time outside!

These were flights 33 and 34 of the year for me, altogether. I didn't quite keep up the pace from earlier in the year, not even for work-related flights. I had fourteen work flights in the first six months, but only ten in the second half of the year. Aw, shucks.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Twelve Twelve!

Twelve twelve!

Park Orchard Park

My 2008 Thomas Guide map shows Park Orchard Park as "Port Orchard Park." Mapquest, Google Maps, and Yahoo Maps don't show the park at all, but the Google Maps version used by Windemere shows the park as just "Orchard Park."

It really irks me when unknowledgeable people "correct" things they'd be better off not touching.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Amazing Race in Dubrovnik

Apparently (for I did not see the episode), the Amazing Race went to Dubrovnik last night. I've been there! It's too bad I missed it, because it's always fun to see places you know.

One of their tasks was to take a zipline from Fort Lawrence (Lovrgenac) over to the main city walls. Here's my photo of Fort Lovrgenac from the city:

The contestants also had to navigate on foot through the old town. Here's a photo of a typical street:
Dubrovnik alley

Or perhaps you need an aerial shot to figure your way?
I'm sure that helps...

The pit stop was up on the hill above town:
Gundulićeva Poljana
Apparently it was at a large cross, but I don't have any photos of that.

They should have made the contestants walk up the hill instead of take a taxi, don't you think?

Sunday, December 09, 2007


Why is our cat so deathly afraid of the vacuum cleaner?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Begins at Sundown

The sun's going down. Happy Hanukkah!

Monday, December 03, 2007


Where am I? Barrow?

Why hasn't the sun risen yet? It's after noon!

More Rain!

If you were wondering why it's raining today, it's because it's the Holy Day of Hívuítoví!

Rain, rain, rain, rain! Yay!

Vítí isn't supposed to come around till next month, so all the snow must go.


Sunday, December 02, 2007

Let It Rain!

Well, the weather outside is frightful
But the fire is so delightful
And it wouldn't cause us any pain
So let it rain, let it rain, let it rain!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Love and Snow

Today, one year ago, is the night I proposed to Chunlin.

I made a good decision!

... In other news, it snowed today. We have three inches at our house and it's still coming down. Monty says we'll get 1"-3" more. And rain tomorrow.

We went out to breakfast at the 5-Spot in Queen Anne. Busy restaurant, and deservedly so. Prompt service for how busy they were. Tasty food, too.

We walked across Queen Anne over to Kerry Park. Since I didn't reserve the park, it was cloudy. Still a good view. A lot colder than our wedding, though! The base of Mt. Rainier was clear, but not most of it.

So then we went to look at real estate. When we were in South Park, it started to snow. It wasn't sticking, though. When we were in Rainier View, it still wasn't sticking on the roads. When we were in Thorndyke, it started to stick on the pavement.

Heading back down the hill was a bit tricky. Our first choice was blocked by a bus. The driver didn't really want to go down that street. So we turned around and took a different road down... at about 15 mph. Turning corners was a bit tricky. Stay away from other cars. Don't trust those drivers! Back down to Interurban, and onto I-5.

You'd think the freeway would be clear of snow, but it was still quite slushy. Downtown had a backup, but we got home safe and sound eventually.

I-Pine Snow

F-Snow Trees

K-Home Snow

A few more photos on flickr...

And just for fun, here's one from yesterday at work:
E-Northgate Sunset

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Newbold Revel

My father's mother's mother's mother's mother's father's father's mother's father's father's mother's father's father's mother's father's father was Robert Carl Revel, born in 1486 in Northamptonshire, England.

Sir Thomas Malory's father's mother was Alice Revel Malory, born in 1450 (or so) in nearby Warwickshire.

Do you think we're related?

(Updated to add a generation between Tom and Alice.)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


I forgot to shave.

Monday, November 26, 2007

How I hurt my knee

On my way home from the Apple Cup on Saturday (Huskies lost, boo!!), I decided to stop by a house in Broadview that we were thinking about buying.

Well, it was pretty late at night (around eleven), so the neighborhood was dark and quiet. I parked my car out on the street and got out, doublechecking the address. The house was a small two-bedroom on a fairly large corner lot. The windows were all dark. The garage door was open. The garage looked empty. The driveway had an even cover of leaves, which indicated that no car had driven on it recently.

I walked up to the house and peered in the window, but couldn't see anything. The streetlight made too much of a reflection. The exterior of the house looked in so-so condition. I went over to the garage and stepped just barely inside. Before my eyes adjusted, I heard a noise.

I froze.

Just barely audible, it sounded like a whisper. It sounded like it was in Russian, or some other Slavic language.

I stepped back.

A chair scraped the concrete floor in the darkness. In a thick accent, a man commanded, "You, stop!"

I turned and ran. More shouting erupted behind me. There had to be several of them in the garage. I zigzagged my path to my car, just in case they had guns. Sure enough, gunshots exploded behind me. By that point, I was breathing too hard to hear them fly past. All I know is that none hit me or my car.

I slammed the door shut behind me and raced out of there, gravel shooting up from the tires. As I buckled my seatbelt, I glanced in the rearview mirror. The Russians swarmed out into the street, heading for a plumbing company van that I hadn't really paid attention to before. Some of them took shots at me, but they thankfully missed.

As soon as I pulled out my cellphone to dial 911, the no-battery symbol appeared and my phone said "Powering Down." My hands jittered from the adrenaline rushing through my bloodstream. I had to get to the police, but where was the nearest station? I knew of one over by North Seattle Community College, but I was heading north on 3rd Avenue and couldn't very well make a U-turn past the van of Russian mafia (or ex-KGB or what's the difference).

So I sped northward on the empty two-lane street, going about fifty miles per hour straight through the stop signs, hoping against hope that a policeman would see me and pull me over and deter the Russians from attacking me. What did I ever do to them? I didn't hear any secrets, I can assure you that!

But no police were to be found. After less than a minute, the road turned abruptly right, at the border between Seattle and Shoreline. I have absolutely no idea where the police stations are in Shoreline, so I kept going east on 145th. I sped right through a red light, got a green crossing Aurora, and as I zipped back and forth through the light traffic, I could still see that plumbing van in my mirror. I was gaining a bit of ground, but not enough to lose them.

Approaching I-5, I wanted to get on the southbound ramp so I could go to the North Seattle police station, but there was a backup of cars in the right lane, so I was passing on the left. I slammed on the brakes (and put on my turnsignal), but they wouldn't let me in!

The Russians fast on my tail, I hit the gas and headed for the northbound ramp. As I cut across that intersection, tires screeched all around me (but oddly, nobody honked their horn). On the onramp, I passed a slow SUV by driving in the HOV lane. The Russians did the same.

To cut a long story short, I'll just say these two things: I'm glad I filled up my gas tank Saturday morning; and the State Patrol was incredibly lax Saturday night on I-5 between Seattle and the Canadian border.

I must admit, I had no plan at this stage, except just go go go go go. I really should have used that drive time to formulate a strategy, but I wasn't thinking too clearly, what with having been shot at!

It was around midnight when I blasted into Canada, the Russians still just a few hundred yards behind. Most of the lanes at customs were closed, so I just drove over some orange cones and into British Columbia I went. In my rearview mirror, I saw the Russian van and a Prius(!) do the same thing. The Prius was actually between the Russians and me. I had absolutely no idea who they were.

The Canadian border patrol were a bit more on top of their game than the Washington troopers. Before we got out of the border compound area, they were driving their cruisers to block off the street and close the gates and throw out the spikes and all that. They weren't quick enough to catch me or the Prius, but they stopped the Russians cold.

As the sound of machine-gun fire filled the night behind me, I drew a heavy sigh of relief. I cruised north on highway 99 towards Vancouver, trying to figure out where I should stop for the night. I was way too tired to be heading straight back home. I was way too *wired* to be driving anywhere.

And then the Prius rammed me. They just slammed their car into the side of mine, nearly sending me careening off the highway. I jolted back awake, fighting the steering wheel to keep the car on the road.

I glanced over at the Prius. It was full of pirates.

They looked like Seafair pirates, but a whole lot meaner. One of them was leaning out the window, brandishing a scimitar.

I seem to recall having passed a similar light-blue Prius on my drive north, as I had weaved back and forth through traffic, but I certainly didn't remember the pirates. I certainly didn't remember cutting them off. I guess I should have paid more attention.

I hit the gas.

My old Corolla can get almost 40 miles per gallon on the freeway, which is almost as good as a Prius, right? I just had to hope that their tank had even less than mine.

I took a couple freeway turns at random and suddenly we were on city streets in Vancouver. I heard gunshots in the night, but I think that might have just been gang warfare and not the pirates. I never saw them with anything more than swords. Very sharp swords.

I came to highway 1 and hopped on, westbound. To cut a long story short, this turned back into highway 99 at some point and we ended up at Whistler. My car was running on fumes at this point.

I skidded to a stop on the icy pavement near the Blackcomb village center. Quite a few people were still about, huddled against the rain/snow mix. I still had my brand-new purple-and-gold knit hat, so I was dressed fairly well for the situation.

Bellowing incoherently, the pirates burst from the Prius before it finished sliding to a halt against a planter box. Their swords glimmered scintilatingly in the surrounding lights. Pedestrians screamed.

I raced across the plaza. Ahead of me through the light snowfall, I spotted a chairlift. I jumped over a railing, cutting to the head of the line. I screamed, "Pirates are after me!" But everybody stared at me like I was on drugs or something.

And then they saw the pirates. Everybody scattered, even the chairlift attendent. Actually, it wasn't really a chairlift, but more of a enclosed tram thing.

Anyway, I jumped into the departing tram car, barely clinging on with one arm through the doorway while I pushed away a pirate with the other. The pirates grabbed at me, swiping at me with their swords. The blades whistled through the air past my feet, but luckily missed.

They jumped into the next tram car and we began our speedy climb up the mountain. I swung a leg up, trying to get it through the doorway, but there just wasn't enough room. I gave up and focused on holding on for dear life as the treetops whisked by below my feet.

The freezing wind bit through my jeans, chilling my legs to the bone. My bare hands and nose collected snow and ice till they were numb. I started shivering uncontrollably.

The tram only went halfway up the hill, which is where you'd have to transfer to traditional chairlifts to get to the top. I decided this was high enough.

As my tram car approached the disembarking platform, I dropped to the snow beneath. I misjudged the distance in the dark (snow is featureless white, you know?) and landed awkwardly on the sloped surface.

And that's how I hurt my knee.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

An Idea

It's easier to vacuum if you don't wear your glasses.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving Friday at the Office

As the first rays of sunlight blaze upon the Best Buy and Target across the small valley, I begin my day of work, toiling away in an almost entirely deserted office.

I think it's time to eat more leftovers.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Sunday was Corrugated Cardboard Day

How did I ever forget about Corrugated Cardboard Day? A coworker mentioned it to me today, regretfully writing, "I guess we have lost the corrugated spirit."

I'm just not keeping up with my holidays lately.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Water Football

I think football would be more entertaining if the field was flooded. Make the players work harder and perhaps even up the speed between slowest and fastest.

Since most fields are crowned in the middle, the sidelines would be much deeper than between the hash marks. The center would be calf-deep and the sidelines would be chest-deep.

The play would be called dead if the ball touched the water.

Hopefully nobody would drown. . .

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Guess Who I Met?

I found out this morning that I have the same dentist as Ken Schram.

I walked in the door, the hygenist said she'd be ready in a second, the door behind me opened. I turned and saw a familiar face, recognizing him quickly.

I said, "Hello."

He said, "Hello."

The hygenist came back to the lobby, said, "Hey, Ken," and to me, "I'm ready for you now." She commented to him that he wasn't wearing a coat and he replied that he liked the cold.

The only bit of complaining he did was complaining about the early hour of the appointment. (He is a professional complainer, after all.) He said he'd rather have bamboo shoots shoved under his nails than have a seven o'clock dental appointment. The dentist offered to cover the floor with thumbtacks and make him walk barefoot to his seat, just to get him prepared.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Five Hours in Spokane

I took my 31st and 32nd flights of the year today, to Spokane and back.

Spokane is a nice town. The freeway never has much traffic on it. I think I could almost live there. . . . Nah.

Monday, November 12, 2007

A week ago. . .

29-Glass Bridge Ceiling Orange

I finally got around to posting some photos from our brief visit of Tacoma a week ago, so go take a look if you haven't found them on your own yet.

At the glass museum:
6-Glass Bridge Column Museum

The glass entering the furnace:
15-Glass Furnace

At the history museum, a banner celebrating the opening of the (short-lived) first Narrows Bridge:
31-Narrows Bridge Banner

Friday, November 09, 2007

Five in Philly!

It's five o'clock in Philadelphia on Friday, so that means everyone in the country can stop working. The alliteration makes it right.

This doesn't hold true, and you still have to keep working, if you live in Fargo, Phoenix, Fresno, or Fairbanks. Sorry!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Lunch in Portland

Yesterday, I was in Portland. Shortly before going to lunch at the Thai restaurant across the street from the job site, I skinned my finger. It wasn't bleeding much, so I just held a paper towel to it as we went to lunch.

While reading the menu, I decided that my wound needed a bit more care, since it was still bleeding slightly and I needed both hands to properly eat lunch.

I asked the waitress, "Do you have any Band-Aids?"

She replied, "No."

Positive that a place with sharp knives would have a first aid kit of, at least, meager proportions, I lifted my injured hand and repeated, "A Band-Aid?"

"Oh, a bandage. Yes!"

And she retrieved two small Band-Aids (or whatever you call non-name-brand bandages with sticky bits on the ends).

So why did she say "no" at first?

She thought I was asking for a dish I couldn't find on the menu!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

In the Mood for Good Food?

I think I celebrated the Holy Day of Nokí (Goddess of Food) a day too soon. Her holy day is today, and yet I stuffed my face last night. I hope She doesn't mind.

34-Melting Pot

We went to the Melting Pot in Tacoma. Everything tasted great. I just couldn't stop eating and miss anything. I don't think I need any food today. Sorry, Nokí!

I'm just glad I didn't have to look at the bill. Thanks, Ped and Geo!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Home Choice

Where would you rather live: a mansion in a slum or a shack in a country club?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

El Norte Blanco Rides Again!

Back from the depths of the cold, white north, El Norte Blanco has returned in disguise as a typical office worker . . . but how typical is he??

Some might mistake him for Andy Warhol, if not for the glasses style. Some might mistake him for a woman, if they're drunk. But nobody will know his true identity!

. . . Is today a holiday? I have an urge to build a bonfire in my back yard.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Off by One

Do you remember, a month ago, when I predicted the World Series? Red Sox over Rockies in 5, I said. Well, I got the two league champions right, but the Sox won in four.

Pretty good pick for someone who only marginally followed baseball this year, huh?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday Donuts

When our company donut-provider brings Krispy Kreme, the donuts are much easier to resist.

Read a Book Lately?

I finished posting Part III of my novel, One Day in a Small Town Desert, so why don't you go read it and tell me what you think?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Election Picks - Short Form

Wa 960: Yes
Wa 67: No
Wa 8206: Reject
Wa 8212: Approve
Wa 4204: Reject
Wa 4215: Reject
KC 25: Yes
KC 1: Reject
Sea 17: No
Sea 18: No

KC Attorney: Satterberg
KC Assessor: Nobles
Port 2: Edwards
Port 5: Bryant
Sea Coun 1: Godden
Sea Coun 3: Harrell
Sea Coun 7: Burgess
Sea Coun 9: Fenton
Sea Sch 1: Maier
Sea Sch 2: Carr
Sea Sch 3: Martin-Morris
Sea Sch 6: Sundquist

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Remember the scene from Galaxy Quest where the little aliens are chanting "Rock! Rock! Rock!" while Tim Allen is standing around triumphant after beating the little beast? And then this giant creature made entirely of rock unfolds from the ground and starts thrashing on him?

Well, that's what I think of, when I think of Rékaré, God of Rock.

Today is His holy day. Don't make Him upset.


Rock! Rock! Rock! Rock! Rock! Rock! Rock! Rock!

Monday, October 22, 2007


There's something *very* bright and hot outside my office window. I closed the blinds, but I think it's still there. What should I do?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Hail photos

Remember when I said it hailed on Friday? Well, here are some photos. A few others on flickr.

Z-Hail Window

X-Parking Lot Streams

Apparently this storm was limited to north Seattle.

A Little Hiking Music

On our hike back this afternoon, we listened to Chulin's ipod.
19-Chunlin Speakers

It played Morcheeba's "Aqualung" twice in a row, so I looked at it. It wasn't on repeat one. I picked another song. "'Round Midnight" from the cd Jazz for a Rainy Afternoon (a good pick for a rainy afternoon, I thought).

I didn't realize immediately, though, that it was alphabetical. That little apostrophe bumped "'Round Midnight" to the top of the list.

We had four Elvis songs in a row. I thought that was odd. It turns out that they all started with parentheses.

It wasn't until we got to the number songs ("24," "25 or 6 to 4," "59th Street Bridge Song," "1812 Overture," etc.) that I figured out the alphabetical thing.

When we got to Toto's "Africa," we were listening to songs we heard Saturday night in the tent.

We arrived at the trailhead just as the Moody Blues' "Afternoon" ended.

The ipod played "59th Street Bridge Song" twice, just like "Aqualung," so I'm guessing I put two copies of each on the ipod. I didn't think you could do that. . .

Chunlin's Poncho

2-Chunlin Dingford

Chunlin is good at thinking outside the box.

She knows that I prefer the temperature of the middle pool, but don't like the cold rain, and so she suggests I get her poncho to wear.

It felt a bit odd, sitting in the pool with nothing on but a blue transparent plastic poncho, but it did the trick. Warm and protected.

I soon discovered that it was even warmer if I collected the hot water in the front of the poncho and held it to my chest like a hot-water bottle.

This morning when were exiting the springs for the last time, Chunlin asked for me to get her poncho. Not really having any idea why, I did.

She then came over to the shelter where I was dressing and poured hot water out of the poncho onto the wood-slat floor at her feet. She cleaned both her feet and the area of floor in one fell swoop.

She had enough water for me to do the same.

And to think I was just going to wipe the dirt off my feet with a sock!

I married one smart cookie.

Pothole Avoidance School Training Track

The Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Road isn't in too good of condition these days. We really need some logging companies to come back and invest in the infrastructure. The trees will just grow back, right?

In any case, the road has so many potholes that I truly had a difficult time avoiding them.

Chunlin will tell you, I'm amazingly good at driving dirt roads and avoiding potholes. But this road was a battle zone. Craters everywhere.

Before long, I was concentrating on avoiding potholes with the right-side tires only, if I was forced to make a choice. Smoother ride for Chunlin, that way.

Some of the worst bits were getting on and off bridges, of course. Even with this knowledge, I still didn't slow down soon enough for some of the hefty bumps.

On the one-lane road, Chunlin didn't feel comfortable above twenty miles per hour. On the two-lane road, she didn't feel comfortable above twenty-five or so.

Parts of the road had been "improved" with new layers of gravel. They must have used round pea gravel instead of proper crushed rock, because that stuff was as slick as snow. I almost preferred the potholes.

My Tent Leaks

I need to seam-seal my tent.

It still works, mind you, at keeping us mostly dry, but that little drip, drip, drip right beside my head is quite annoying. It gets the Thermarest wet, too.

Down by our feet this morning, we had a couple tiny puddles. No problem, really.

I set up the tent on a beautifully made gravel square in the group campsite, so at least we didn't have any rain-related rivers entering our tent from below.

The outside of the rainfly was far wetter than the inside. It got drenched. Just like my raincoat. . .

After we got home, I hung the tent and rainfly out to dry on our porch railing (under cover, thankfully). But I didn't have time to flip them before dark, so now they're over chairs in the dining room. At least I got the wetter side dry first!

Goldmyer Hot Springs

11-Goldmyer Hot Springs

Goldmyer Hot Springs started out life as a mine. I don't think they found any gold or coal or whatever it was they were looking for. Instead, they found water (with a very mild sulfur smell). They stopped mining and turned the place into a vacation destination.

There was a train, which cut the travel time considerably. Part of the trail on the south side of the river is still along the old railroad bed. I blame the forest service for stopping the train, but it might have been economics. Dunno.

Somewhere over the years, the entrance to the mine was blocked off halfway to create a deep pool in the cave. It's proper stonework, with mortared joints and all. There's even a drain at the bottom. The cave has the hottest water, since that's the source.

At the back of the cave, there's a small bench, just above water level. If you sit on that, it's just like a sauna. Unfortunately, it's not nearly comfortable for two people to relax on. The rocks nearby are too pointy to be proper headrests.

Chunlin had an idea to bring an air-mattress raft for the cave. It's wide enough. I think we'll have to try that, next time.

Very steamy.
15-Chunlin Goldmyer Steam

The water from the cave then spills into a small, middle pool. This pool is all manmade, but of natural rock from the area. Looks good. The water here is fairly shallow, and there's not much room to stretch out. But the water is a perfect temperature. Except for the cold drips off the trees above.

Even when it's not raining, the moisture from the hot springs gets the tree branches above wet, and so they drip. Cold drops.

Chunlin lent me her poncho so I could sit in that pool and not get cold splashed. Very considerate. It worked, too.

From the small pool, the water cascades into a large, shallow pool. This is the coolest water, but it's still bathtub temperature. It's as deep as a bathtub, though, and large enough for four people comfortably.

You can sit under the falls for a hot-water massage. Very nice.
13-Goldmyer Pools Falls

The lower pool gets all the rain, so we didn't spend much time there Saturday. Sunday, however, was much better.

Near the springs is Burntboot Creek, a raging torrent of near-freezing water.
9-Burntboot Creek Flow

My second time to Goldmyer was in the springtime (my other three trips have been in autumn). That time, the creek level was low enough that you could dunk yourself in it. Not this weekend, though. Or rather, not if you valued your life.
10-Burntboot Creek Crash

By the way, the springs are clothing-optional, but bring a swimsuit just in case someone has children or you're prone to giving in to clothing peer pressure.

Saffron's Bottle

When we decided to head back to camp Saturday night, I couldn't find one of my waterbottles. Right next to where we left it, though, was another Nalgene bottle. Instead of grayish green, it was yellowish green. This difference would be understandable, since it was nighttime.

However, this bottle also had a bright green cap (mine was black), a carabiner attached (mine had none), and the word "Saffron" painted down the side (mine, of course, did not).

We took it back to camp with us.

We figured that perhaps one of the Ukrainian girls was named Saffron. Our opinion of them wasn't too high after our brief encounter.

Also suspected were a pair of women that we never saw, but heard. They arrived after dark, when Chunlin and I were in the back of the cave. They left before we emerged.

The next morning, I took Saffron's bottle up to the springs. A half hour later, two women arrived, presumable the same two. As I entered the shelter, I saw my waterbottle sitting beside the yellowish one.

Still, I asked, "Is this your waterbottle?"

It was . . . sort of.

As it so happens, Saffron was a trail nickname of one of their friends. Which explains, to some degree, why they couldn't recognize it in the dark.

So I got my bottle back. All is well in the world.

The Ukrainians

When I called Goldmyer's office to tell them our arrival time would be in the afternoon instead of morning (unneccessary now -- they don't require precise arrival times), I was told that a group of twelve would be at the hot springs on Saturday during the day. Therefore, a late arrival would be perfect, since we'd be arriving just as they were leaving.

I calculated a good departure time would be three o'clock, to get back to the freeway before dark. (Based on their four-hour travel time.)

The group of twelve was still signing in when we arrived at four o'clock.

Half of them had matching red-and-gray ponchos. Some of the girls had fur-lined coats. The caretaker said that one of them asked if there were any restaurants nearby.

I guessed they were Russian, from their accents, but they were actually from Ukraine. Or Sacramento. Or both.

Chunlin and I picked a campsite and set up the tent while they tramped up the hill. We decided to go eat dinner at the shelter by the springs, and then get in the water when they left.

Some of them hadn't even made it into the springs by the time we got up the hill.

Chunlin and I ate our dinner of snacks, but the Ukrainians hadn't left yet. So we joined them in the pools. They all wore swimsuits, so we did too. And here I thought Europeans were more open about public nudity.

Around 5:30, they started getting dressed, getting out their flashlights, and heading down the trail. I'm sure the long walk in the dark was fun, especially with the heavy rain and the mud puddles.

I wonder if they'll ever come back?

Guess What? It Rained!

It rained a lot this weekend. . .

Usually when it rains on backpacking trips, I don't *know* that's it's going to rain, beforehand. Sometimes there's a chance of rain, or perhaps it's a multi-day trip and we just don't trust the forecast that far out.

This time, however, there was absolutely no chance that it would not rain on Saturday. It had dumped on Thursday, dumped on Friday, and -- guess what? -- it rained Saturday. No downpours. No hail. No lightning. But rain it did, all day long.

And into the night, too.

When we arrived at Goldmyer, one of the men from a large group asked the caretaker, "Does it always rain here?"

She answered, "Yes."

I chimed in, "I though it had stopped raining!" Which it had, sort of. Down to a heavy mist.

It rained well into the night. My tent kept us warm and dry (other than a few drip spots, such as over my face). By morning, however, it had mostly stopped raining. True, it didn't sound like it from inside the tent, but that was just tree-drip.

Halfway back to the car, the rain had started up again, but not enough for me to dig out my pack cover, or Chunlin her poncho.

Travel to Goldmyer

It used to be that you needed a high-clearance vehicle to drive up the road to Goldmyer Hot Springs. Last spring, though, the forest service upgraded the road so now my little car can handle it.

Except that they gated the road off 4.5 miles before Goldmyer, at Dingford Creek.
1-Dingford Creek

So instead of having the option of a very bumpy road and a 1/4-mile walk or an okay road and a twelve-mile walk, you now have the option of an okay road and a 4.5-mile walk or an okay road and a twelve-mile walk. I don't know why anyone would choose the longer hike anymore. Especially in the rain. That trailhead had several cars today, however, I noticed.

Also, the twelve-mile walk ends with a very cold creek crossing. The 1/4-mile walk used to start with a very cold river crossing, but the forest service has now put in a bridge. Much warmer and dryer!
3-Goldmyer Bridge Chunlin
5-Goldmyer Bridge Under

The improved road (upgraded from very bumpy to okay) still has numerous potholes and is actually only one-lane (two tracks). The road that's always been okay has actually degredated since last year, with just as many potholes as the further-in stretch. But it's two lanes, so you can drive 25 mph instead of 18 mph.

I found it odd that the road goes from two lanes to one lane with no 1.5-lane stretch. Three-track dirt roads are fairly common in the Cascades, but not on the Middle Fork Snoqualmie, I guess!

From Seattle, the total trip is now three hours. Goldmyer Hot Springs will tell you four, but I think they drive and walk slow.
16-Chunlin Goldmyer Trail

Eighty-some years ago, you could make the trip in two, but that's when they had a train.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Holy Badwater!

Today is the Holy Day of Ríhíví, Goddess of Poisonous Water!

Just because her purview is poison, it doesn't mean She's not the nicest goddess you've ever met. In fact, She is. You don't see any others of Them fighting fires or playing with cats, do you?

Plus, She's the wife of Zhaké, the wisest god of Them all. And They are quite the loving and ever-faithful couple (unlike most of Their relatives!).

To celebrate Her holy day, we're going to the local hot springs. Yay!


Friday, October 19, 2007

Dime-Sized Hail!

Was that in the weather forecast today? Not that I pay attention to the weather forecasts, usually, but did they really predict that Seattle would have dime-sized hail, lightning, high winds, and flash-flooding in the streets?

Because, if any of them did, well done!

For a few minutes there, I was afraid our west windows were going to break from the pounding hail. Luckily, not.

Fifth Avenue in front of our office turned into a river of water and ice flowing quickly down to Thornton Creek.

Fifteen minutes later, just a light sprinkle...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Lopez Weekend

I finished posting photos from last weekend's Lopez Island trip. So go look at them all, if you please.

Saturday, Chunlin and I took a 35 (or 40) mile bike ride around the island.

Shark Reef:
37-Shark Reef Fog

54-Shark Reef Mark Hands Ch

Davis Road, on the south end of the island:
58-Davis Bay Road Sheep

Iceberg Point (or rather, a spot a ways to the east of Iceberg Point):
70-Iceberg Point West

76-Chunlin Iceberg Point Rock

And back to Odlin Park for the night:
93-Odlin Sunset Silhouette

On the Odlin Park dock:
102-Chunlin Mark Odlin Dock

We had some time Sunday morning, so we drove over to Spencer Spit:
110-Lopez Sound Driftwood

The tip of the spit is a couple hundred feet short of Frost Island:
113-Frost Island Spencer Spit

And then my camera battery died, but rest assured that the view of Mt. Baker from the ferryboat was breathtaking.

As you can tell, we got a lot of chaperoning done!